Kerber is back
Whisper it quietly, but the 2018 incarnation of Angelique Kerber may just be even better than 2016’s.
Last year, Kerber’s breakthrough campaign was made to look a distant memory as she plummeted from first to 21st in the world rankings, failing to go beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam in the process.
But in 2018 she is more than replicating the form that saw her claim two Grand Slam titles in a calendar year, and right now few would bet against her claiming another in a week’s time.
Pitted against Maria Sharapova in a blockbuster clash between the only remaining Grand Slam champions left in the women’s draw, Kerber stampeded through the first set in 29 minutes, counter attacking to great effect.
The German threatened to steam even further ahead in the second set with an early break, but Sharapova, who had been struggling to rein in her groundstrokes, began finding her range, breaking back and getting to 3-3.
That was as good as it got for the Russian, though, as Kerber hit the accelerator once more, claiming the next three games to win her 12th straight match of the season.
“Everybody who know me knew I would come back after 2017,” said Kerber after the match. “I work so hard.”
"I don't want to take anything away from her and the way she played," said the two-time Australian Open champion. "I think she played extremely well."
"She's a very confident player at the moment."
On court, Novak Djokovic enjoyed a thoroughly convincing encounter against Albert Ramos-Vinolas, besting the Spaniard 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
Off court, he raised some injury-related concerns by taking an extended medical break while leading 6-2, 4-1.
Nevertheless, he returned to seal a victory that was never in doubt, cruising into the fourth round where he will meet the rising Korean star Hyeon Chung.
“It was okay. Nothing major,” said Djokovic of the injury break.
“I knew I wanted to use the medical timeout because I needed it, but at the same time I knew it was nothing major that can potentially raise the question mark on whether I can continue playing or not.”
Roger Federer marched into the fourth round of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 win over Richard Gasquet.
Coming into the encounter with a 16-2 lead in his head-to-head with the Frenchman, Federer was always the favourite in this battle of the one-handed backhands, and once Federer broke at the first time of asking, the match was always headed in one direction.
Gasquet did challenge in the final set, breaking the Federer serve for the first time en route to levelling proceedings at 4-4, but the Swiss quickly wrapped things up with a sumptuous backhand stroke that brought Rod Laver Arena to its feet.
Around the Grounds
Tomas Berdych continued his impressive progress, beating Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to serve a warning to the rest of the men’s draw. Elsewhere, Su-wei Hsieh continued her dream run, beating No.26 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 7-5.
There were joyous scenes on Show Court 2 as home favourites Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt, who have teamed up for the men’s doubles, triumphed 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-5 over No.3 seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.